It would be too predictable to pick Jared Leto carrying his own head on the 2019 MET Gala to go first, right? Iconic all the same, this moment saw us delve into the wider and weirder world of Michele’s twin energy and his obsession with carrying replicas, specifically at the FW18 show. Armed with their own replica heads and a collection of baby dragons, the models took to the catwalk in a puzzling operating room to fascinate those in attendance with the metaphor Michele had constructed for this show. The CD explained that the idea was post-human and about how we utilise our identities in the modern age, to expose, hide or transform ourselves through technology. Be that transformation through social media, fashion or even beauty procedures, this runway proves there is only one Alessandro Michele, even in his bid to create one, two or ten versions of himself.
Michele recruited the graffiti designer Trevor Andrew to elevate the AW16 collection with his artistic mark, co-designing pieces for the runway show. Known as ‘Gucci Ghost’, the graff legend collaborator is loved for his interpretation of street art and pop art sensibilities, and for his take on consumer culture and bending the ideas of luxury. In this duo, Michele noticed the artist had previously ripped off the Gucci logo, and instead of, perhaps, suing him like any other Creative Director would have, he worked with him to elevate what Gucci meant to consumerism, and it resulted in a perfect partnership. “A symbol can be so much more powerful than words, unrestricted by language and appealing to our senses on many levels,” says Andrew.
Message for the masses
The SS20 Gucci show was opened by a series of ivory and beige reformulated straight jackets. “Biopolitics,” Michele said of the show, “it’s the power over life and body. The power that legitimises some existences, confining others. A power that imposes conducts and paths, that prescribes thresholds of normality, classifying and curbing identity, and chaining it to what is preconceived.” Quoting French philosopher Michel Foucault in his inspiration, the blank-designed jackets represented that through fashion, power is the ultimate force that is exercised. Model Hari Nef even made her own personal protest in the show, writing ‘Mental Health is not fashion’ on her palm. Michele explained that the designs block and restrict to make the individual anonymous, and go past individual expression to reflect upon uniformity. Though with no intention of glamorising mental illness, the message Michele put out was further reinforced when he revealed the jackets were not for sale, and were for those who chose to listen carefully.
The Beauty-full Michele
Imperfection is beautiful, and in the May 2019 Gucci Beauty campaign, Michele presented atypical beauty to the world. The images were shot by Martin Parr, and Michele had handpicked models like punk lead singer Dani Miller to present unconventional and stereotype-defying beauty to mainstream luxury beauty. Though many loved the campaign and felt represented, it was also met with some backlash, with one follower saying “This will definitely not motivate anyone to buy this fucking lipstick”. “Make-up is something poetic and fleeting that you can add to your face, changing or highlighting something about yourself,” Michele told WWD, when speaking about the collection. “I find it an almost magical language, strongly linked to the other details I use for the expression of the self, such as jewellery and a hairstyle. Of all these aspects needed to emphasise or underline an aspect of ourselves, makeup is the most immediate and the oldest way, making it the most fascinating.”
Shifting menswear for good
In a final bid farewell, all we can do is thank Michele for some of the greatest menswear styling of 21st-century fashion. A$AP Rocky’s babushka scarf; Donald Glover’s velvet suits, and Harry Styles’ — well, Harry Styles’ everything. Loafers, handkerchiefs and maxi skirts line the celebrity clientele of Michele as his aim to deconstruct gender norms was well and truly fulfilled. The richness of his choices rings through the predisposed ideas of masculinity and breaks it down into a new glamour for the modern man. His charm sits in a bubble of sensibility and sharpness but thrives in his menswear renegade. Speaking to ANother Magazine, Michele stated that: “My Gucci universe is inclusive. It fragments to recreate in a contemporary way. It tries to achieve chemical effects through the use of different agents. It is a possible universe that sometimes uses an impossible language. I like being in this universe, because it gives me more possibilities.”